Scars are a result of your body's natural healing process. When you have an injury, the process of inflammation causes your blood to carry white blood cells and microscopic fibers to the injured area. White blood cells attack bacteria and other microorganisms, and fibers begin to wall off and repair the damaged area. The fibers form a strong mesh over the damaged area, tougher often than the surrounding skin. Scar tissue can be unsightly, and it can sometimes inhibit movement or cause more serious problems. For instance, scar tissue in the abdomen, called adhesions, can prevent the normal movement of internal organs.
Avoid stretching the wound while it heals. According to A. D. Widgerow in a May/June 2000 article in "Aesthetic Plastic Surgery," tension on the wound while it is healing can cause excessive scar growth. The article also recommends keeping the wound area moist, using either silicone gel sheets or a lotion developed specifically for preventing scar tissue. Ask your doctor for more information.
Regain full range of motion as soon as possible after an injury or surgery. This helps to prevent excessive scar tissue and keep scar tissue from limiting future movement.
Begin massage after your injury or surgical wounds heal closed. Massage helps to minimize the development of scar tissue, and it helps to prevent scar tissue from causing layers of tissue to grow together, as in adhesions. Apply an antiseptic cream to the area and rub along the scar, across it and rub in circles all over the injured area. Gradually work more deeply, as long as it doesn't hurt, trying to make the area warmer, softer and more elastic. When possible use a kneading motion: pick up your skin and muscle tissue with one hand and then the other, and let the tissue slide out of your grasp. Pick up the skin and gently roll it between your fingers and thumbs.
Practice stretching exercises, to prevent fibrosis in large areas such as the area of a bruise or the areas injured in a fall. Stretching and loosening the injured areas, once any abrasions have healed, helps to keep the tissue loose and prevents scar tissue from forming.
After an injury or surgery, avoid deep tissue massage. First choose moderate to light pressure techniques such as lymph drainage massage, Swedish massage or myofascial release. Later, when the injury or surgery has completely healed, there is no pain and you have been stretching, then you can try deep tissue massage.
If you have been injured and pain is getting worse every day, rather than improving, see your doctor for an evaluation before following any of these suggestions. Increasing pain suggests there is a more serious problem that must be dealt with before you work on scar tissue.
- Wake Forest Baptist Health: Wound Healing and Scar Management
- Brown University: Repetitive Strain Injury -- Treatment and Recovery
- "British Medical Journal"; Effectiveness of Early Physiotherapy to Prevent Lymphoedema...; M. Torres Lacomba, et al.; January 2010
- "Connective Tissue Research"; Cyclical Cell Stretching of Skin-Derived Fibroblasts Downregulates Connective Tissue Growth Factor; Y Kanazawa, et al.; 2009
- "Aesthetic Plastic Surgery"; New Innovations in Scar Management; A. D. Widgerow, et al.; May/June 2000
- "Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi"; Effects of Skin Rehabilitation Massage Therapy...Burn Survivors; Y. S. Roh, et al.; March 2007